City Backs Off Code That Would Force Conservatives to Promote Liberal Ideas

‘Americans don’t have to wait to be punished to protect this freedom…’

Conservative Political Consultants Sue Ann Arbor Over Law That Forces Them to Promote Liberals

Grant Strobl and Jacob Chludzinski of ThinkRight Strategies / PHOTO: Alliance Defending Freedom

(Claire Russel, Liberty Headlines) After conservative political consultants filed a lawsuit against the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan, city officials determined they would not be subject to a city law requiring political consultants to represent all views—even views they oppose.

ThinkRight Strategies, based in Ann Arbor, fought the city over a legal code that could force Grant Strobl and Jacob Chludzinski, the conservative owners of the consulting firm, to advocate for liberal causes.

If they had been found in violation of the law, the city could fine them up to $500 for each day a violation occurs.

“Americans should be free to choose which political causes to promote,” Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Samuel Green, who represented Strobl and Chludzinski, said in a statement.

“Ann Arbor has agreed that it won’t use this law to force Grant and Jacob to use their skills to promote causes they oppose, like abortion and socialism,” Green said. “Grant and Jacob will work with anyone when it advances their conservative beliefs, and we are pleased that the government will not force them to further messages or causes that undermine their values.”

Although the legal code is applicable to a wide variety of businesses within the city, Ann Arbor determined ThinkRight is not subject to it because the group “will only provide its services in ways that promote, or are not contrary to, its conservative political beliefs and therefore limits the platforms, views, policies, causes, events, or messages it will convey or promote through its goods and services.”

The city’s decision is the right one because “the First Amendment protects people’s freedom to choose what to say and what to endorse, and Americans don’t have to wait to be punished to protect this freedom,” ADF Senior Counsel Jonathan Scruggs said in a statement.

“The positive outcome here for Grant and Jacob underscores a core American principle: The government can’t force creative professionals to surrender free speech and religious freedoms in order to operate a business,” Scruggs continued. “We’re pleased that Ann Arbor quickly and clearly clarified the scope of its law to respect our clients’ freedoms protected by the First Amendment.”